It was a day of nostalgia as soccer’s younger generation mingled with veteran players from Vancouver Island in a special ceremony at the home of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame (GVSHoF) on Wednesday. Four display panels were unveiled depicting 128 years of soccer greatness. The display panels, at the Save on Foods Memorial Centre, join many other memorabilia that chronicles Victoria’s rich history of sport.
Each panel explains different era’s – the Early Years from 1890-1940, Growth & Expansion from 1941-1976, Modern Era from 1977 – Current and finally Silverware, listing team and individual successes.
Doug Jennings, President of the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame, made some opening remarks including explaining the mission of the GVSHoF. “Why we exist is to engage our Greater Victoria Community in recognizing and celebrating outstanding performances and contributions in sport.”
The display panels were four years in the making, explained Vince Greco, the Executive Director of the Vancouver Island Soccer League (VISL). “During that time, I developed a great respect for archivist Nick Tuele and the Royal BC Museum archives to make this happen.”
Kjeld Brodsgaard, President of BC Soccer, explained that soccer started in the north and central Island, in Cumberland and Comox with Nanaimo Wanderers being a dominant team from 1923-1927. The game spread south and Vic West has become the most successful club on the Island.
During the Growth and Expansion years, the Island became a hub for touring teams, Bill Murphy, VISL Vice-President, recalled. “We hosted world class teams such as Fulham, Chelsea, Spurs, Newscastle United and Hearts. Even Stanley Matthews played here in 1950.”
Moreno Stefani, part-owner of the Victoria Highlanders, played soccer for 24 years before becoming an advocate of community soccer through coaching and volunteering. “The beauty of soccer is it allows you to achieve your goals as an individual and as part of a team. The VISL has set benchmarks on the Island and we are so honoured to see the history here in this new home for the league.”
Greco was presented with the 1905 Vancouver Island Football Association Challenge Cup, by Jennings, The refurbished Cup, will now be the official Cup Winners Cup for the winner of the annual game between the VISL Division Champions and the Jackson Cup champion. The Cup will be up for grabs for the first time this Saturday at Hampton Park with a north versus south battle – Cowichan FC against Gorge FC.